Big names return for the Cambridge Summer Music Festival

The Cambridge Summer Music Festival returns this year with an exciting program that includes music in the botanical gardens, an opera in a mansion, a classical piano legend and an orchestra playing Beethoven’s 5th symphony by heart.

The line-up aims to offer something for everyone and is packed with big-name artists to win back audiences who may still be nervous ahead of live events in the wake of the pandemic.

It’s a bold move by Artistic Director David Hill, who explained that the festival was looking to make a big comeback after a difficult financial period due to lockdowns.

David Hill (56952980)

He said: “It was a tremendous team effort to do this in a relatively short time frame because with everything in terms of general public health and the difficulty these days, but also last year’s festival, is getting on its feet imagine what’s going on, which in many ways has been very good, lost money because of social distancing. So this year we had to start from scratch again. I owe a great debt of gratitude to Angela Dixon and the team at Saffron Hall for helping us attract some very famous names this year that we think audiences will love. We also have many concerts to appeal to the whole family including music from films such as Star Wars and Harry Potter performed by a brilliant all female horn octet called Cor8. And the Sounds Green concerts at the Botanical Gardens are back, starting with folk group Honey and the Bear, a folk and roots duo. It’s very light music and it’s fun and it’s local. They conjure up stories and songs, telling tales of Suffolk folklore, their passion for the outdoors and the odd heartbreak. It’s super fun to sit over a drink or a picnic and listen to these people making great music.”

Pianist Imogen Cooper.  Picture by Sim Canetty-Clarke (56663500)
Pianist Imogen Cooper. Picture by Sim Canetty-Clarke (56663500)

Some of the famous names this year include legendary pianist Imogen Cooper, who plays Schubert, Ravel and Liszt. Trumpet extraordinaire Crispian Steele-Perkins will lead a master class and accompany me in a trumpet-organ recital. A unique opportunity to hear Albeniz’s masterpiece Iberia performed by Leeds International Piano Competition winner Artur Pizarro, as well as the artistry of another type of keyboardist, classical accordionist Ryan Corbett. Choir lovers are treated to a performance of Mendelssohn’s Elijah in Ely Cathedral, as well as the exceptional singing of the Gesualdo Six in close harmony. The festival ends triumphantly at Saffron Hall with the Aurora Orchestra giving an amazing performance of Beethoven 5 – by heart.

Gesualdo Six.  Picture by Ash Mills (56663492)
Gesualdo six. Picture by Ash Mills (56663492)

David said: “Cambridge needs to bring big names for people to come and hear them because it has to be more outward looking than sometimes. There’s so much going on in the city, it’s awesome, it’s actually a wonderful thing. But every once in a while everyone should stop and listen to a person who is at the top of their game internationally. Just to know what the difference between that and anything else you might actually encounter can be. That’s the whole point of a festival, being able to say come and hear something you wouldn’t normally hear. And that’s what we’re trying to do.

Classic Latino.  Image DYLAN NOLTE PHOTO (56663490)
Classic Latino. Image DYLAN NOLTE PHOTO (56663490)

“For the first time this year we are also staging an open-air opera at Childerley Hall, which we like to call our very own mini-Glyndebourne, which will be a performance of Mozart’s much-loved opera Cosi fan tutte.”

Four to book now

There are too many highlights at the festival to mention, but these tickets are up for grabs right now:

Sounds Green outdoor concerts

Camilla George.  (56663520)
Camilla George. (56663520)

On Wednesday nights in July, the University of Cambridge Botanic Gardens hosts live music including Honey&thBear, Prime Brass, Camilla George Quartet and Classico Latino.

Bring a blanket and a picnic. The concerts are open to all ages. Sale of food, ice cream and drinks. music from 6.15 p.m.; Garden closes at 8pm. Due to limited capacity, all paying visitors should purchase garden tickets in advance through the Botanical Gardens website, which will be available from June 2022. Tickets may also be available at the gate, but this cannot be guaranteed. See for ticket prices.

honey & the bear  Picture by Nick Ilott (56663482)
honey & the bear Picture by Nick Ilott (56663482)

Mozart’s Cosi fan tutte

Childerley Hall (56663486)
Childerley Hall (56663486)

Stroll through the romantic gardens of Childerley Hall and then gather in Childerley’s beautiful 19th-century Long Barn for a performance of Mozart’s much-loved opera – Cosi fan tutte. This comedy about young lovers tying themselves in romantic knots is brought to life in this all-new production, setting the action in 1970s Cambridge, where a bunch of buttoned-up students are about to get a love tutorial

Friday, July 15, 6:30 p.m. With a 75-minute picnic break. The gardens are open from 4pm. Childerley Hall Dry Drayton, CB23 8BA. Tickets: £20, £35, £40.

Classical accordionist Ryan Corbett

Ryan Corbett (56663502)
Ryan Corbett (56663502)

Be amazed by this performance by virtuoso classical accordionist Ryan Corbett. Corbett won the Royal Over-Seas League Music Competition in 2021 and his playing has a freshness and brilliance that mark him as a star of the future. His music program, composed or transcribed for accordion, includes an artful blend of Baroque, Romantic and contemporary styles. Originally self-taught, Corbett is now considered an exciting young force in the classical music scene across Europe.

Sunday, July 17, 1 p.m. Sidney Sussex Chapel. Tickets: £10 plus booking fee (8-25 years free).

Imogen Cooper: piano legend

Imogen Cooper is considered one of the best interpreters of the classical and romantic repertoire and is internationally known for her virtuosity and poetry. She is celebrated for her interpretations of Schubert and Schumann, but also for promoting contemporary composers such as Thomas Adès.

Saturday 23 July 7.30pm West Road Concert. Tickets: £20, £26, £30 plus booking fee (8-25 years free).


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